A while ago I registered for the new Chase Aeroplan card’s waitlist. It’s not that I couldn’t wait, but they offered an extra 10,000 points, and, mercenary as I am, I couldn’t resist. The card comes with a $95 annual fee (not waived for the first year).
And it surely seems different from any airline miles credit card offer I’ve seen before. If I had to summarize it in one sentence, it would be this:
The Aeroplan card is not as good as we hoped, but not as bad as we feared.
Allow me to explain.
Chase Aeroplan credit card welcome bonus
You’ll get two Flight Reward Certificates (up to 50,000 points each) after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.
When we were discussing rumors of what the new welcome bonus would be, there was a lot of speculation as to how Chase would allow us to use certificates. So the good news is that you can add Aeroplan points to the certificate to get your award. For example, since a Business Class flight to Europe costs 60,000 – 70,000 points, you’ll have to add 10,000 – 20,000 points to get your ticket.
And the certificates won’t expire as long as you hold the card.
The bad news is as follows:
- No change for you. If you redeem your certificate for a 45,000-point seat, you won’t get 5,000 points back. Your “change” is forfeited.
- You can’t use both certificates for the same award. For example, a Business Class flight between the U.S. and Australia costs 85,000 points, but you can’t redeem both certificates for that award even if you’re willing to leave 15,000 points on the table. You’ll have to use one certificate and 35,000 points.
In my opinion, this welcome bonus as a bona fide 100,000-point bonus laden with some restrictions.
Notable Aeroplan Card benefits
Aeroplan 25K Status for New Cardmembers
New Chase Aeroplan cardmembers get complimentary Aeroplan 25K elite status “for the remainder of the calendar year, plus the following calendar year.” However, according to bloggers who had a little chat with Chase people beforehand, you will still get the status until the end of 2023 even if you apply now. Makes sense to me.
Now, this is a feature that’s pretty amazing for an airline card. I don’t know any publicly available credit cards that would offer elite airline status just for holding the card. If you want to maintain the status after 2023, you’ll need to spend $15,000 annually. There are other incentives, but we’ll talk later about them.
So what does the entry-level elite Aeroplan 25K give you? Here are the most interesting benefits I’ve found. You can access the full list of Aeroplan 25K status benefits on this page.
Priority Seat Selection
Take a seat at the front of the Economy Class cabin on any flight operated by Air Canada, Air Canada Express and Air Canada Rouge. Seat selection fees may apply with some fares.
Priority Airport Check-In
Priority Airport Standby
Complimentary Checked Baggage Allowance (2 bags, 23kg each)
Two Maple Leaf Lounge Passes
Each pass is valid for access to Maple Leaf Lounges located in the domestic and U.S. zones of Canadian airports, as well as those in Los Angeles and New York (LaGuardia and Newark). Passes can be used with a confirmed same-day departing ticket for scheduled Air Canada flights. Visitors under the age of majority must be accompanied by an adult.
eUpgrade credits: 20 credits
Additional eUpgrade credits: 5 credits
eUpgrade credits can be used on eligible flights operated by Air Canada, Air Canada Express and Air Canada Rouge in order to upgrade to premium cabins, and will be deposited into your aircanada.com eUpgrade account. eUpgrade credits are valid through January 15 of the benefit year.
Earn Priority Reward vouchers for a 50% discount on the price in points of a flight reward, based on your status and SQD threshold. As an Aeroplan 25K Member, earn vouchers eligible for Economy travel within Canada and between Canada and the U.S.
Elite Status Extension for Parental Leave
If you are expecting a baby or welcoming a new child into your family, and plan on taking a parental leave, you can request an extension and continue to enjoy the benefits of your Elite Status when you return to flying more frequently. Air Canada is proud to have been the first airline in North America to offer this benefit.
Star Alliance recognition
Enjoy the recognition and benefits of Star Alliance Silver, which entitles you to priority reservation waitlist and priority airport standby.
From what I see, the most valuable benefits here are 25 eUpgrade credits. Of course, Priority Check In can be priceless when you fly Economy, and free checked bags are nice too, but eUpgrade credits are in a different league. I don’t know exactly how to use them, but you can apply them even on award tickets, so it’s worth some further investigation, IMHO.
What about Star Alliance recognition?
Embarrassing! Seriously, just like they said, Star Alliance Silver entitles you to exactly two things: priority reservation waitlist and priority airport standby. Even oneworld Ruby gives you more (access to Business Class priority check-in and preferred or pre-reserved seating). SkyTeam Elite adds extra baggage allowance.
Star Alliance should be ashamed of themselves, LOL.
How to maintain your current Aeroplan elite status (and earn higher status too)
In my NFFO (non-frequent flyer opinion), status-chasing is a losing game. I had some promotional elite levels with Delta and American in the past, and I’ve never been able to get anything of value out of them. Although I did get upgraded on Delta once, so I probably shouldn’t use the word “never.”
In any case, I could never understand people doing all kinds of insane things like mileage runs for status, but then again: I’m not a road warrior. However, if a credit card just wants to give it to me for two years – I’ll be happy to take it.
Also keep in mind that even if you’re not interested in Air Canada or Star Silver status, Aeroplan elite status can help you get status-matched with airlines from other alliances when their status match opportunities present themselves. And unlike Star, their entry level benefits are better, as I’ve mentioned before.
But what happens after the first two years?
Let’s say you do need that status and can really use the benefits. If you want to maintain your 25K level with your credit card spend only, that’s going to cost you $15,000 a year.
If you want more, there is an interesting Aeroplan feature called Elite Status Level Up.
To get to the next 35K level, you’ll need to spend $50,000 a year. Aeroplan 35K gives you more useful benefits like 5 more eUpgrade credits and access to Maple Leaf lounges in Canada and the U.S. But it still doesn’t get you beyond Star Alliance Silver.
So if you want more, the game gets much more complicated. You’ll have to earn your status AND spend $50,000 a year to invoke the Elite Status Level Up. To get to Aeroplan 75K, for example, you would need to earn Aeroplan 50K AND spend $50,000 in the same year.
This is where Aeroplan lost me. Well, actually it lost me all the way back at $15,000, but I thought I’d cover the options, if only for the sake of thoroughness.
Free First Checked Bag
Chase Aeroplan cardmembers and up to eight travel companions get free first checked bags up to 50 lbs. Even better, I didn’t find any mention of having to buy a ticket with the Aeroplan card in T&C, although I would probably call to make sure. One thing that’s making me scratch my head, though, is this T&C language.
If the first checked bag is already complimentary (for example, as a result of Aeroplan Elite Status or fare purchased), there is no additional checked bag benefit that will be provided.
The conundrum here is that as a cardmember you have free first bags for up to nine people (including yourself), while as a 25K elite member you only have two free checked bags. I presume that cardmembers’ benefits prevail because the elite status is also the benefit of the card, but to me the policy isn’t clear.
Now that I’ve already put in 1,000 words on this post, it’s probably as good time as any to admit that I don’t know the ins and outs of the Aeroplan program. I lost my interest after its 2015 devaluation when I failed to find any serious sweet spots in their newly butchered award chart.
Even though Air Canada went almost completely revenue-based on its own metal while maintaining a chart for its redemption partners, it’s still willing to reward its elite members and cardholders with better redemption rates. This approach isn’t unique in the industry; both United and American supposedly provide better award space for their elites and cardholders (although having held multiple cards from both airlines, I don’t remember having ever been on the receiving end of their generosity).
In any case, if you want to know more about Preferred Pricing, check this excellent Prince of Travel research of several Air Canada markets.
Pay yourself back (coming soon)
Soon Chase Aeroplan cardmembers will be able to use the Aeroplan points to erase any travel purchases, including airline, hotel, car rental, and more at 1.25 cents per point. This will be limited to 50,000 points per year or $625.
How exactly will it work and what points would count? I have no idea. Would you be able to transfer points from other credit card programs (namely AmEx or Capital One) and cash them out that way? I’m not necessarily saying it would be a great deal — I’m just saying… 🙂
Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or NEXUS Fee Credit
NEXUS Fee Credit is a feature that caught my eye, since the other two benefits are already featured in too many other travel card offers. Of course, people either need it or they don’t, so it’s not going to benefit everyone.
The $50 NEXUS fee is cheap compared to Global Entry or even TSA Pre, but if you routinely drive between the U.S. and Canada, it can be a lifesaver. I’ve crossed the Canadian border by car exactly six times in the last 30 years, and only one of these crossings was a breeze (two were outright nightmarish). Unless my experiences were highly abnormal, I can’t imagine anyone who does it regularly without NEXUS.
There is a suite of travel and shopping benefits, but all of them (except the last one) are plain vanilla benefits available on many other cards.
No Foreign Transaction Fees
Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance
Baggage Delay Insurance
Trip Delay Reimbursement (more than 12 hours)
Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver (secondary)
Purchase Protection (“covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account”) – seems quite generous to me.
More crazy stuff
But what if you’re eager to spend real money on the Chase Aeroplan card, say $100,000? Chase and Air Canada think that’s a great idea! You will be rewarded with “unprecedented Aeroplan redemption benefits, including 50% off Priority Rewards and companion benefits.”
But wait, there is more! 🙂 Just spend $1 million a year, and you’ll receive a GLOBAL+1 benefit – an unlimited companion pass that refunds you 100% of the points you spend on a ticket for your companion in any class of service until the end of the next year after the year when you earn the benefit.
Gee, what a deal!
All this free travel! It will surely bring you a lot of comfort after Chase shuts down ALL YOUR CARDS starting with this one.
I don’t like it one bit!
Seriously, it sounds almost like an entrapment to me. In this day and age, Chase and other banks know all too well that a subset of “hobbyists” would go to a great length to “game” the system, and it’s almost like an invitation to try. STAY AWAY unless you are an “organic” millionaire and spending a million bucks annually on a personal credit card comes naturally to you. In which case, why are you even reading this? 🙂
Looks better than earning schemes of most major airline cards, I think.
The new $95-annual-fee Chase Aeroplan credit card has made quite a splash. With its unusual 2 x 50K certificates welcome bonus, entry-level elite status, the upcoming Pay Yourself Back feature and a decent earning scheme, it was bound to turn a few heads. Most other benefits, however, are quite predictable and common for a premium airline credit card including a free checked bag and a host of travel protection benefits.
In my opinion, this card is certainly worth getting if you can use the points on Air Canada or its partners. Beyond the first year? It does have a strong retention appeal, but only if you fly on Air Canada with any sort of regularity.
Of course, keep in mind that in order to get the card you must have the right Chase 5/24 “status” — the only status that really matters. 🙂